Directed by Kevin Reynolds, starring Jim Caviezel, Richard Harris, Guy Pearce, Luis Guzman, Dagmara Dominczyk and James Frain.
Robert Donat, Richard Chamberlain, Gérard Depardieu... over the years, the character of Edmund Dantés has been lived in by a dozen different actors. Now, over a century-and-a-half since the publication of Alexander Dumas' timeless story of revenge and redemption, it's the turn of Jim Caviezel and director Kevin Reynolds to put their mark on 'The Count of Monte Cristo'.
Having been set up by Fernand Mondego (Pearce), the naive Edmund Dantés (Caviezel) is sent to the penal island of Chateau D'lf. There he befriends inmate Abbé Faria (Harris), a former soldier who schools Dantés in combat and the classics - in return for his help with an escape bid. But Faria does not live long enough and Dantés flees Chateau D'lf alone. Now with Faria's dying secret to guide him, Dantés begins his revenge plan, leaving his former identity behind as he becomes the Count of Monte Cristo.
While many would rightfully question why there is need for another take on Alexander Dumas' treasure, Reynolds has made a decent job of it. Having tasted box office glory with 'Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves', Reynolds then found himself out of his depth with 'Waterworld' but 'Count…' is a return to the action/romance/one-liners he made his name with in the first place. With a feel that recalls all those history-based epics you saw on Christmas TV as a kid, he deftly handles the two-hour plus running time, never getting bogged down in one aspect of the story and always keeping the set pieces at the ready.
He does however supply two major let downs. Firstly, the relationships between many of the characters aren't deep enough with Caviezel's time with long-lost love Mercédès (Dagmara Dominczyk) rarely, if ever engrossing. The scenes between Caviezel's Dantés and his loyal sidekick Jacobo (Guzman) are also too brief - they make a great double act and Reynolds should have invested more screen time in them.
The other big problem is that for all the great visuals, Reynolds has overlooked the little details. The accents are shaky, the characters seem too clean for the 19th Century and the aging process is so poor that you'll find it hard to believe that 15 weeks nevermind 15 years have passed since Dantés was betrayed by Mondego.
But it's doubtful that any 10-year-old will see these strings and while it's hard to see where 'Monte Cristo' fits into kids' worlds in the age of 'The Matrix' and 'The Mummy', a few will see this movie and decide to read the book. And for that alone, Reynolds deserves heaps of credit.